For the Chinese, time is cyclic. It is a recurrence, a tapestry of monsoons, seasons and the rise and fall of dynasties. It is one of the reasons why the Chinese is prone to economic cycle theories. Since ancient times, the Chinese classics had discussed cycles in the ancient agrarian economy, long before Jevons’s sun-spot theory, which initiated the serious research into economic cycles in the west.
The I-Ching, for instance, is a book of divination based on cycles. Sima Qian’s magnum opus, “Records of the Grand Historian”, widely regarded as one of the most significant Chinese history classics, combines the Jupiter Chronology with Chinese theory of “Five Elements” to describe the agricultural cycle - from harvest, crop failure, drought, and eventually to severe famine at the end of every twelve years. “Huainanzi” describes the process of how smaller three-year cycles embedded in larger twelve-year cycles, with “crop output declining every three years, famine happening every six years, and a serious crop failure occurring every twelve years”. “Discourses on Salt and Iron”, another Chinese ancient classic, records a similar twelve-year agricultural cycle.
例如，《易经》就是一本基于周期的占卜预测书。司马迁的巨著《史记》被广泛认为是中国历史上最重要的经典之一。司马迁把木星的年表与中国的 “五行” 理论结合， 描述了从丰收、歉收、 干旱，到最终严重饥荒的一个、十二年的农业周期。《淮南子》描述了数个较短的三年周期如何嵌套在一个较长的十二年周期中，并曰：“三岁而一饥，六岁而一衰，十二岁一康”。另一本中国古典文献《盐铁论》也记载了一个类似的十二年农业周期。
Our research has shown that there exist well-defined short cycles of around 3 to 4 years in duration in the US and China’s economies. These cycles by themselves are endogenous to the underlying dynamics in the economy. They fluctuate with regular cyclicality and simultaneity across a vast array of economic variables, and engender ebbs and flows in the economic trajectory. Every few years when the short cycles in the US and China entwine, significant gyrations will occur in markets and the social domain. We are now about to enter such phase. Singular episodes and significant market upheavals are about to emerge. The confluence of the declining US and China cycles will prove to be too tough to fight soon. The significant fall in China’s stock market is a prelude of what is to come.
At such volatile times when bear market beacons, one should refrain from the urge to catch falling knives, even though markets here in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong have cheapened substantially. Few can escape the fate of economic cycles. What to do with a million dollars is a million-dollar question. For now, gold, US treasury bonds and the US dollar could provide safe refuge. For the brave ones with cash to deploy in the near term, there will be better entry points after the storm.
The other way to play: For a really out-of-the-box investment, I would put my money into Kweichow Moutai, the fiery Chinese liquor, the only investment to outperform China’s housing market in the last two decades. Like some of the finest French Bordeaux wines, supply is strictly limited and it appreciates in value with age. A single bottle of 1940 vintage sold for 1.97 million yuan ($287,700) at a July auction in China.
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